Government gives go-ahead to Estonian-Latvian offshore wind farm

Offshore wind turbines (photo is illustrative).
Offshore wind turbines (photo is illustrative). Source: European Wind Energy Association/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

A joint Estonian-Latvian offshore wind farm in the Gulf of Riga is one step closer to becoming reality after the Estonian government signed a memorandum of understanding Thursday. The development would help reach Estonia's renewable energy goals, as well as reduce dependence on Russian-generated electricity, attract investment, and potentially reduce electricity prices.

Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas (Center), signed on behalf of the Estonian government.

"The offshore wind farm zone to be developed jointly by Estonia and Latvia is a unique project which will contribute to the achievement of both countries' renewable energy goals, and also creates new opportunities for other offshore wind park developments," Aas said.

Aas noted that the development would also strengthen both countries energy security. Estonia and Latvia are both looking to reduce dependency on electricity from the Russian Federation and Belarus, with both countries grids to be synchronized with the EU's and decoupled from Russia's. A difference of opinion with Lithuania on the speed and manner of removing dependence upon Belarusian energy, more specifically its near-completed nuclear power plant at Astravyets, emerged earlier in the summer.

The wind farm would have a capacity of up to 1,000 MW, and produce around 3.5 TWh of power annually – around 40 percent of Estonia's total annual consumption by today's figures.

It's completion date would be 2030 in line with renewable energy targets.

Hando Sutter, chairman of the board of Eesti Energia, however believes the park could be finished in 2026-2028.

"I believe we are head of the initiative with our preparations," Sutter said.

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) said investments were required in various renewable energy sources in order to meet the 2030 goals, adding offshore wind energy also has a growing and increasingly important role to play in this.

Taavi Aas added that pooling resources with Estonia's southern neighbor would improve opportunities for getting EU support, and would also have economies of scale for potential future wind farms.

Both countries are to jointly carry out feasibility studies to decide on the best location for the development, taking into account general wind conditions, eisting projects, environmental considerations etc., after which the development will be put out to tender via open auction – a method Aas said helped bring the lowest prices as well as attracting potential foreign investment.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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